Seaside Festivals and Vintage Film Screenings Planned for Barmouth

The Dragon Theatre in Barmouth, supported by Film Hub Wales and Cardiff’s Chapter as BFI Film Hub Lead Organisation, will open its old chapel doors from mid-July for a season of vintage coffee mornings and coastal themed, archive film screenings. Events tie in to the calendar of local seaside festivals and fun days taking place throughout the summer.

Expect paddle-boarders, vintage lorries, coastal walks, spectacular laser displays and even a ‘Salt and Vinegar screening’ (where you bring your own fish and chips) with festivities ending with the celebrations for Barmouth Bridge’s 150th anniversary in October.

On the big screen, visitors will glimpse what holidays were like in days gone by - carnival floats and decorated bicycles, steam trains and walks on the prom.

The events will celebrate last month’s release online of 50 newly digitised films from Wales dating from 1898 to 2000. The films form part of BFI Britain on Film: Coast and Sea, a project that reveals hidden histories and forgotten stories of people and places from the BFI and the UK’s national and regional film and TV archives including the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales.

The screenings are also part of a nationwide programme for Britain on Film: Coast and Sea supported by BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) organisations, taking place at coastal locations around the UK, with funds from the National Lottery and led by Film Hub Central East (Broadway Cinema Nottingham).

Events in Barmouth:

Paddle Sports Weekend – 15th-16th July.

Barmouth harbour teems with raft racers, kayakers and paddle-boarders. Competition is fierce to navigate the Mawddach estuary course and hundreds of spectators come along to enjoy this weekend event. A pop-up screening venue on the quay in the atmospheric Sailors’ Institute will show archive films throughout the weekend. On both evenings, the film Fifty Years Ago Today! will be shown at 7:30pm at the Dragon Theatre and preceded by a short B movie of archive camping film from 1967.

Archive Coffee Mornings, Dragon Theatre – 10:30am July 27th, August 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st. Adults £3, Children free of charge.

Each Thursday morning during the summer holidays, visitors will be welcomed in to the converted Victorian chapel, overlooking Barmouth beach and the lifeboat station for a 'panad' (cuppa) and a chance to delight in archive film screenings.

Royal National Lifeboat Institution Fun Day - 20th August, time TBC.

This popular day in the fundraising calendar for the RNLI happens at the boathouse, just opposite the Dragon Theatre on the promenade. A Salt and Vinegar Screening (bring your own fish & chips) of the film ‘Song of the Sea’ will take place on site or in the Dragon Theatre.

Heart of Wales Rally - 9th September

For the fifth year running, the Heart of Wales Rally brings a convoy of 60 colourful vintage lorries and commercial vehicles into Barmouth. It’s a sight to be seen and draws a crowd of enthusiasts for all things nostalgic. An archive coffee morning for the public, will be followed by lunch for the 130 drivers, drivers’ mates and families at the theatre with films running for their post meal entertainment.

Barmouth Walking Festival - 16th-25th September

The Barmouth Walking Festival starts mid-September, guiding up to 200 people on 35 mountain and coastal walks. Their registration point each morning is the Dragon Theatre. An archive coffee evening will take place during the week (date TBC) so walkers can kick off their boots, relax and soak up coastal views from times gone by.

Barmouth Bridge 150th Celebration - 13th-15th October

The final Barmouth event is the weekend of celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Barmouth Bridge, the famous iconic viaduct across the Mawddach Estuary. The railway line it carries, ‘The Cambrian Coast’, brought tourism to the town in the Victorian era. The bridge was used in the filming of The Ghost Train (1941), which will be shown over the weekend alongside footage from the same era. The theatre will also host an exhibition of bridge artwork and many other events will be held around the town, including a model railway exhibition and firework/laser display on the Saturday night. More details coming soon!

These films, and many more Coast and Sea related titles from around the UK, are also available to watch for free on BFI Player via an interactive map for Britain on Film.

Film Hub Wales’ Strategic Hub Manager Hana Lewis said:

“There’s something special about archive film for me, it offers a window to an unseen world, where we can press play on the forgotten past. We’re delighted to support what is an exciting and unmissable programme of events in Barmouth of which archive film is at the very heart.”


Allison Williams, Manager of The Dragon Theatre, explains:

“Ever since the railway arrived in Barmouth back 150 years ago, thousands of holidaymakers have descended on Barmouth – generation after generation, such is their loyalty and fondness for our town. There is a huge appetite for nostalgia and for seeing how things used to be and so we expect holidaymakers and locals to enjoy the archive footage that has been discovered.”

Since Britain on Film’s launch, over 30 million people have accessed their country’s film heritage through BFI Player and social media channels. With this new collection over 7,500 films can now be seen online – 97% of which are free. By 2018, thanks to National Lottery funding and the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, 10,000 film and TV titles from 1895 to the present day will be newly digitised and available to view.

For more details, please visit or find Dragon Theatre on Facebook.